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Weathering properties of 6061 Al electroless nickel plated outdoors

I am a consulting mechanical engineer in the Los Angeles area involved in the construction of some large pieces of "engineered art". The industry segment I work in covers theme - park equipment to movie special effects. I am looking for a general sanity check - we have some large (15' long), dynamically loaded elements in an outdoor structure/machine/artpiece for installation in downtown LA. These pieces need to resemble slightly aged polished steel like a steam locomotives connecting rods, but due to other considerations they need to be light - hence the suggested 6061/electroless Ni/chemical patination. I have ordered The Canning Handbook [on eBay, Amazon, AbeBooks], and "the patination and bronzing of metals" as suggested elsewhere on this site, but would greatly appreciate any advice from your members concerning the size, suitability of process, and durable patination techniques for Nickel.

Aidan Bradley
Consulting Design Engineer - Thousand Oaks, Ventura County

Hi Aidan,
I don't believe that you'll find any palatination for nickel (except a non-weatherable black). Having 15' long Al pieces EN plated is also expensive. I suggest having the aluminum bright dipped and anodized, dyed as desired with an exterior rated dye. Run some samples first. For brightness and corrosion resistance, alloys such as 5005, 5252, 5657, 6063 or 6463 are suitable. Al 6061 will be less bright for a given anodizing thickness.

Ken Vlach [deceased]
- Goleta, California

contributor of the year honored Ken for his countless carefully researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your hard work which the finishing world, and we at, continue to benefit from.


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